2006-04-14 @ 2:47 p.m.
Because I am such a responsible employee, I went to work yesterday, took my client out, did a group with the two Jennifers and even joked with a bunch of single women up at the front desk coining a new phrase. We’re now officially known as the Desperate Un-Housewives. But then after work I drove myself over to the hospital and checked myself in. The mental hospital. I needed help.
Now first of all I’m not crazy. I’m not up in church towers with a uzi shooting Republicans. Although the thought has crossed my mind a couple of times. I’m bipolar. I have mood swings. Even on my medications. But the last two weeks have been extremely difficult. I even upped my own meds myself, you know since I’m a Doctor, or I just play one on TV. I didn’t know what to do. I don’t have a regular psychiatrist. I just get meds from my regular physician who admittedly doesn’t know psychiatric meds. But like yesterday, when I was driving to work and I switched moods dramatically like 4 times in 7 miles, I knew I was in trouble.
So I checked in around 5 and immediately had my purse taken away from me in triage. They don’t want you to have any potentially dangerous things like guns or knives or David Hasselhoff CDs. Unfortunately, with my purse went my glasses, so I signed a bunch of official documents and probably owe the hospital like $3 million dollar now. I then had to sit in a wheelchair, you know, since mentally ill people are occasionally struck lame like those fainting goats, and they took me through a long series of dark, damp hallways to the psychiatric wing by a security guard with a gun.
I’ve been to this place once a long time ago. The last time I was in lot worst condition. I had threatened suicide to “A” and he told me I had to get my ass down to the hospital, otherwise he would have the cops escort me. That scared the living crap out of me, so, after stopping at McDonald’s for a vanilla milkshake (Yuck! I don’t even like vanilla! Yup, I musta been crazy), I went. This time though, I checked myself in.
I was a little afraid walking through the ward for two reasons. 1) THERE’S CRAZY PEOPLE THERE, DUDE!!! THEY’RE SCARY!! 2) I was also nervous that I would see people I work with at work, and how would it look that a person that is supposed to be a role model, being wheeled in as a patient. I suppose I could have told them I was doing “research” for a starring role in a big Hollywood film with Johnny Depp. That certainly would have flown in a looney bin.
Fortunately, they put me in a small waiting room with several windows and a television. My last trip there I was locked in a 8X8 room for 6 hours with no windows. This time I got a seat by the window and TV and looked out at some blooming daffodils. Everything was encased in heavy plastic. The artwork on the walls. The windows. The television, which was playing “The Animal Planet” channel was also inside a giant plastic cube. I had to walk through a metal detector so they could see if I was hiding a switchblade in my bra or something. Wouldn’t that be cool if I did? But knowing my luck it would sproinggggg open and I’d have the first ever Do it Yourself Open Heart Surgery.
But then came the waiting. And there was a lot of there. I was there:
But it did afford me a lot of people watching time. And I really had to do a little zen centering shit so I didn’t attack certain people, because what I realized sitting there for nine hours was that most people there were probably driven crazy BY THEIR FAMILIES!! Christ!! Everybody except me had family members waiting with them.
At first I felt a tinge of sadness about that, although I knew if my mother was there, she would somehow make my hospital visit all about her and probably start making paper hats out of stray newspapers and be doing a stand up comedy routine by the end of the night. But sitting and listening to the families of the patients, who were largely teen-aged girls and young women, I couldn’t believe how badly they were being treated, and how much guilt they were being subjected to and just how grating the personalities of certain family members were. Supportive? Ha!
I felt particularly sorry for this one 17 year old girl whose father was this biker Harley dude with long hair and one of those long chains that attach your wallet to your penis or whatever. He did nothing but bad-mouth the kid, be sarcastic, make fun of her, complain about her to various people on his two cell phones and then repeatedly tell her he was going to leave her at the hospital and she could get home on her own. Of course being a minor, you need someone to sign you out. I was getting so angry listening to this guy browbeat the poor kid, that I really wanted to scream at him. “No wonder your kid in an emergency room. You treat her like shit!” Plus her brother was there, and he was taking his cue from dear old Dad and being a dickweed too.
And all this was going on under the plastic encased television which was playing endless loops of “America’s Funniest Animals” of dogs playing pianos and cats falling into fishbowls, and occasional episode of Mr. Crikey himself Steve Irwin wrestling with alligators and rescuing Kookaburra birds out of steel pipes.
Plus for some unknown reason, people in mental hospitals think if they go up to the receptionist and ask to leave, that they will immediately be released. Heh! Yeah, right. But that sure doesn’t keep them from asking. Over and over and over and over. One old geezer that had on one blue sock and one black sock, kept going up and telling the receptionist that “it was a conspiracy!!” Dude, that is about the worst thing you can say in the crazy place.
And then this other woman who kept asking to be released AMA (which means they’re responsible for their own safety and can’t sue the hospital if something happens). The answer was no every single time naturally, since she was brought in by the police and then her asshole father kept making an endless stream of jokes about how stupid the receptionist was and hey, lets start a fire in the reception area and I’ll go grab your purse and we’ll run. Ha, ha, ha!! What a great idea...in a building full of people behind locked doors. Good one! Obviously an idea from someone of superior intelligence.
That really was the hardest part of waiting for nine hours. Listening to all these half wits, because actually other than the conspiracy guy, all the patients, seemed more normal then their family members.
The tide finally started to turn about 1 a.m. when this one young girl just started talking and joking aloud with everyone. She was there with her boyfriend and seemed very cheerful. Earlier in the evening she had been talking on her cellphone to someone about making up Easter baskets for her cats, but then she saw some cat pinatas and thought they might be more fun for her cats.
But anyways, she was just chatting brightly and was very funny and even knew the famous Chuck Norris joke series.... “Chuck Norris’ tears cure cancer, but unfortunately he’s never cried.” I hadn’t talked to anyone up until then because I was feeling kind of miserable between listening to Harley Dad pistol whip his daughter and all the annoying cell phone ringers that kept ringing on everyone’s cell phones and the uncomfortable couches and the boredom and only getting to eat a dry turkey sandwich for dinner and having to listen to the chirpy hosts make stupid jokes on “America’s Funniest Animals”.
Of course we’re all locked in this room together and at one point the receptionist disappeared for about 15 minutes and the smokers couldn’t get out to smoke and the brow-beat daughter got locked out in the hallway because there was no one to push the buzzer. So we all started concocting an elaborate escape plan. At first I was going to squeeze my arm through the receptionist window slot and try to push the unlock button and then we were going to call 911 and say we were trapped in a mental hospital (my personal favorite) and then I realized there was a poster hanging in the waiting room with the office number on it, so we called it and someone finally came. The jokes went on and on though. The Happy Girl said they were going to ask us about the dog playing the piano on “America’s Funniest Animals” and if we gave the wrong answer, we’d have to stay. I said I thought there was subliminal messages in the Animal Planet programming meant to make us crazy enough to come back every three weeks to make up the hospital’s financial deficit. The Happy Girl then said that being in the waiting room was like being on “Survivor” except you WANTED to be voted off so you could leave. We all laughed.
Imagine having fun and laughing in a mental hospital! I finally got in to see the psychiatrist at about 2 a.m., a mere nine hours after I had arrived. I felt considerably cheered after the last hour of laughs and jokes in the waiting room, but I was able to tell him what I needed in terms of medicine. He gave me two new meds, including something that will help me sleep (thanka Jesus!) and then I finally went on my way.
The only benefit on being there for nine hours and getting out at 2:10 a.m. in the morning? There was no one in the parking garage and I didn’t have to pay for parking. SCORE!!!!
Lyrics by Lennon/McCartney. All angst copyright by awittykitty